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SAFETY | 9 out of 10
Five stars, overall; five stars, frontal and side impact
'Good,' frontal, side, rear, and roof strength; 'acceptable,' small overlap frontal; Top Safety Pick+
The Kia Optima has in past years finished near the head of the class; and we see no reason why that should change for 2014. Top crash-test ratings from both the insurance-funded IIHS and the federal government all add up to one of your best mid-size sedan picks for safety.
Front active headrests are standard in the 2014 Kia Optima, along with front seat-mounted side airbags and side-curtain bags. So is Brake Assist, and Hill Assist Control, which helps avoid rolling back when starting uphill, and electronic stability control. A Blind Spot Detection System and rear parking sensors have been added to the options list, and they're available on all but the base LX model.
The Optima earns five-star scores in all tests--including the side pole test--from the federal government. And it gets 'good' ratings in every test category from the IIHS (except an 'acceptable' in the new small overlap frontal test). That altogether still qualifies it for a Top Safety Pick+ rating, however.
It's worth noting that while the Optima is structurally similar to the Hyundai Sonata, the Kia has a number of different details. And those apparently make some difference here, as the Optima manages a five-star federal score while the Sonata only achieves four.
The Optima remains one of the safest sedan picks; and blind-spot detection is newly optional for 2014.